Monday, July 18, 2011

While Trying To Stay Cool In Another Typical Cincinnati Summer

I keep hearing the Reds are one of several (as many as 12 has been reported) teams who've kicked the tires on a trade for Rockies 'ace' Ubaldo Jiminez. Admittedly, in the last couple of months, Jiminez has returned to his 2010 form, a year in which he tossed a no hitter and got off to a blazing start. But the asking price for Jiminez will be enormous. One, he's relatively non-expensive through 2013. And two, with so many teams interested in dealing for him, the market will dictate a huge asking price. How huge? Well, I believe it will take one of the Reds young starting pitchers (Mike Leake, Travis Wood or Homer Bailey), as well as a major league ready prospect (either Yonder Alonso or Devin Mesoraco) and one of the Reds low level prospects (Yasmani Grandahl or Billy Hamilton). For a pitcher who hasn't had the track record of say Justin Verlander, that would be a prohibitive price for the Reds to pay.

Like you, I want to see the Reds be proactive and do something, quickly to re-establish themselves are a legitimate contender in this race. It was great that they took two of three from the Cardinals this past weekend. But the true test will be what they do over the course of these next 13 games. If they win two of three in Pittsburgh and follow that up with a 7-3 record in the upcoming home stand, I believe they'll be either in first place or within a game of first. But that's a tall order for a team that hasn't pieced together back to back wins over its last 24 games.

Interesting week for your Cincinnati Bengals, wasn't it? Three arrests. They now lead the league in something. Since 2000, the Bengals have had 35 player arrests. Some of course, have been multiple offenders. But in those eleven years, the Bengals have managed to win just 72 games. When your arrest total is almost half of your total victories, that's not good. My guess is Cedric Benson, barring any lock up time for his latest transgression, will be back. And this team needs cornerbacks, so my guess is Adam "Pacman" Jones will be back. Marvin White was a long shot to return. My best guess is that Benson's problem will be settled out of court. Jones plead guilty today to the disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace charges against him. That will go to trial.

And I'd like to get excited about the end of billionaires fighting with millionaires. But I'll hold off until the owners and players have agreed, in writing, to a new collective bargaining agreement. My guess is, that will be sometime late this week. Why the urgency on both sides? Remember, as we like to say, the answer to all of your questions in life is money. With the players sharing now in total revenues, it's in their best interest to settle sooner rather than later. In the past, the owners have taken a sizable chunk of revenue off the top for expenses. No more. Now the players will get a piece of the total league revenues. That would include revenue (ticket sales, TV rights, etc) of pre-season games. Most estimates had the league losing up to a billion dollars if the entire exhibition schedule was wiped out by a lockout. Losing a piece of that was simply too much of a pill for the players to swallow. Apparently principle does have a price.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wondering If The Reds Season Is Just About Over

Tough to believe, isn't it? Last year, so much promise, so much fun. This year? Not so much. You'll get a lot of answers to the question, 'where did it go wrong'. But I think this season was lost in the winter. Other teams in the Reds division decided to go shopping. The Reds sat that out. Other teams in their division made strategic changes (Cardinals with Berkman, Brewers with Marcum and Greinke and now Rodriguez). The Reds reinvested in their own talent, doing contract extensions with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.

You can look this up: rare is the team that repeats as division champ that does NOT do some retooling in the off season.

The Reds front office, including last years MLB Executive Of The Year Walt Jocketty, simply over-valued too many of their players and thought they made even exchanges for the players they lost. Fred Lewis for Laynce Nix? Not even close. Edgar Renteria for Orlando Cabrera? Cabrera isn't tearing it up in Cleveland. But they signed him for $1 mil and Renteria is costing the Reds $2.1 million, minimum this season. He has incentives that kick in with added playing time. Cabrera, though, was a great team leader and it's no small reason why every team he plays for contends. Aroldis Chapman for Arthur Rhodes? Not even close. Chapman has been better lately. But for the first two months of this season, he was a 100 mph disaster.

If I sign the checks at Great American Ball Park, I'm calling both Jocketty and Dusty Baker into my office and asking them why they do what they do. The General Manager didn't make a meaningful change until late last week, when he finally relented and called up AAA shortstop Zach Cozart, who should have been up here early in June. The manager insists on playing veteran players who under perform, at the expense of younger players who show promise.

What kind of message does that send to Reds fans? This one: mediocrity is acceptable. And the same message is delivered to the players in the Reds clubhouse. It's naive, to say nothing of bad business, to think that one season in the last 15 has built up enough equity to carry this team through a season like this. It's 2001, 02, 03 or any other year since 1995 all over again.

There's a line that separates patience from stubbornness. Four games out of first, two games under five hundred and showing absolutely nothing since opening week that would lead you to believe this team is capable of a prolonged winning streak, the Reds have crossed the line.

This blog may not be reproduce, retransmitted or re purposed in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of Ken Broo.